Monthly Archives: April 2011

Where My Heart Is

On Sunday I had a very surreal, bittersweet experience. I walked through each room of my parent’s house at 667 Cross Creek Drive and said goodbye. Goodbye to the house that we’ve lived in since I was a sophomore in high school – the longest we’ve ever been anywhere. I stood in each place and, like a movie montage with Coldplay playing in the background, images flashed through my mind of sweet moments in each spot. Cooking in our wonderful kitchen; drinking coffee while lounging on the big leather sofas in the family room; enjoying many holiday dinners around the dining room table; talking on the phone for hours on end and playing the grand piano in the living room; watching episode after episode of LOST with my siblings in the study; having my very own room and bathroom – a teenage girl’s dream; sleepovers and scary movies in the basement; reading in the sun room; laying in the hammock in the backyard; and one of my favorites – sitting on the back porch during each season of my life, looking up at the trees and having long conversations with God. I did so much growing up in that house. It’s home and that’s how I’ll always think of it.

But life goes on and now that we have wonderful Ben Haven (our refuge on the Blue Ridge Parkway) and Mom and Dad are empty-nesters, there’s really no need for such a big space. It’s time for another chapter, time to move on.

I must admit that I’m sad to say goodbye to this piece of my adolescence and young-adulthood. This move feels different than all the rest. You see, we Refvems have done this before. We’ve moved. A lot. The majority of my childhood was spent changing towns or schools every couple of years. We’ve gone from California, to Virginia, to Mississippi, back to California, to Texas, back to California yet again and then to North Carolina. I went to 6 elementary schools and lived in 8 houses from birth to high school graduation. So when we moved to Cross Creek Drive when I was 15, it didn’t have some earth-shattering significance for me. I was glad we had the bigger space (there are 7 of us in my immediate family), but I’d learned not to get too attached. But lo and behold, Bill and Joanna stayed put…for 13 years. That’s huge. It just so happens that this house is where we’ve been the longest, where I didn’t necessarily “grow up” but I did a lot of “growing up.” I became fond of the big brick house at the end of the neighborhood and I like that we found a resting place for so many years.

I know that wherever my parents live next – the condo? a loft in downtown Mt. Airy? – will feel just as much like home. As soon as all of our things fill up the space and my parents begin to live life, it will become ours. It will smell like us and have the same pictures on the wall and books on the shelves. And of course, home is made up of people, not places and things and I’m thankful that my home is 6 people whom I absolutely adore. We’ll always be together, no matter what roof is over our head.

I might not be so good with change and I happen to be a pretty big homebody – not a good combination for this latest development – but with my loveable family providing me with an ever growing and dynamic home base, I can truly say I am excited about what the next chapter holds. It’s a bittersweet close to this one, but hopefully in the forthcoming pages there’ll be some weddings and some babies and some holidays at Ben Haven and family trips to England and California. I know there will be laughter and tears and hugs and fights and making-up and holding on and letting go. That’s where the real story happens, in our lives and hearts, with the walls surrounding us merely echoing what they’ve seen and heard.

So, farewell, dear house. You’ve been good to us and we’ll miss you.

And to Dad, Mom, Will, Emma, Jill and Charlotte – thank you for loving me without ceasing and giving me a nurturing space to grow into the woman I’m meant to be. You are my home and you are where my heart is.

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Hold My Heart

Does anybody know how to hold my heart?

How to hold my heart

‘Cause I don’t wanna let go, let go, let go too soon

I wanna tell you so before the sun goes dark

How to hold my heart

‘Cause I don’t wanna let go, let go, let go of you

Last night I got the chance to see Sara Bareilles perform at Wake Forest – it was so great. I found out Monday night she would be there on Tuesday and so I quickly found someone to cover my shift at Salem, got my friend Linda to buy a ticket with me and Tuesday night we found ourselves in the presence of good music. Sara is so talented with this powerhouse voice and so much of me wants her life. How awesome to be on stage, playing the piano and guitar, interacting with the audience and sharing your heart. Too bad my calling seems to be with middle schoolers instead!

The song above was probably my favorite of the night. It kind of has this melancholy feel to it and I’m always a sucker for bittersweet songs. I love the lyrics because they so clearly reveal how I feel at this stage of my life. As a single woman, I often wonder if there’s anyone who will truly get to know me and know what to do with my heart. It’s a fragile precious thing and letting someone have a part of it is risky. For Christians, peace comes in knowing that our hearts are in complete safety in the arms of our Father and so I am comforted knowing that no matter what, He knows how to hold my heart. Oh how I wish everyone in the world knew this. Let’s tell them.

But back to life lately. Like I said before, it seems my calling for now is to spend my days with middle school kids. This week I just had to laugh because I bet if we compared our work days, you would not encounter the following: seeing a 14-year-old boy’s hind-quarters in the hallway because one of his friends pulled his pants down; having to confiscate boxing gloves after one of the students brought them for the culture fair and everyone wanted to be Rocky; hearing burps and farts on a regular basis; constantly having to tell people not to touch each other, especially members of the opposite sex. See what I mean? Never a dull moment. Bet you wish you didn’t have to sit and stare at a computer all day, huh? Spend a day with me and you’ll probably want to go running for the hills, but you might also see some cool things that make me come back for more. Like talking to kids at lunch about their weekend plans and what they want to be when they grow up. Like having kids tell me I look beautiful today. Like having kids come up to me, say “Guess what?” and start rattling off the latest news in their lives. Like watching some boys try to complete a Rubik’s cube with a step-by-step guide and laughing with them when they just can’t get it. These and many more moments keep me coming back for more.

Looking at that, I can’t believe how far I’ve come this year. I hope I never have to repeat the first three months of this experience again because nothing else in my life has brought me to my knees more dramatically. I know what it’s like to be ridiculed and disrespected and sometimes even despised. But I also know what happens when you push through and come out the other side when these kids finally trust you and maybe let you in a little bit. And I’ve gotten to know Jesus in a whole new way and understand what He calls us to as disciples (Matthew 10).

A while back I wanted to be on Young Life staff more than anything. I was convinced that full-time ministry was my calling, but it just never seemed to be the right time. I had so many conversations with God about it and kept asking why it wasn’t happening. I prayed for Him to either change my heart or change my circumstances. I asked Him to give me a heart for teaching if that’s what He wanted me to do. Well, He did. He provided this job for me and has carried me the whole way. And somewhere along the line, I fell in love. With all of it, even the frustrating parts. I really think I’m where I need to be right now. I’ve also learned to live in the present and not worry so much about what’s too come. He’ll take care of that. Instead of searching for the “perfect” job (which doesn’t exist), I need to buckle down and do the hard work of being a young teacher. Then maybe cool opportunities will come along someday. Or maybe I’ll just be a teacher for 30 years and know that I’ve touched a few lives along the way.

But for now, I will keep going back to Ferndale Middle School and attempt to bring some light into the darkness. I will keep going for the kids and for Jesus. Because I’ve learned to trust Him more and He’s the one who really knows how to hold my heart.

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